How to Age-Proof Your Resume

August 8, 2019

by Iswari Nallisamy, a TopResume contributor

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, chances are high that you’ve seen or experienced age discrimination at work. According to a recent study by AARP of adults over the age of 45, 61 percent of respondents said they've either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and 38 percent of those believe the practice is “very common.”

Indeed, ageism is very real in today’s job market, as older job seekers tend to be more experienced and expect a higher pay than younger applicants. If you’re worried that this bias might hinder your job search, don't fret. The following tips will help to age-proof your resume and showcase your skills effectively.

1. Focus on your recent experience

The longer you’ve been in the workforce, the less relevant your earlier work experience becomes. Employers aren't interested to know about your first job right out of college that has no relevance to the current role that they’re trying to fill. Therefore, try to focus on the positions you’ve held in the past 10 to 15 years when drafting your resume. Similarly, remove the dates related to your education and work experience if they fall out of the 15-year window. You can still summarize your older work experience using a “Career Note” section, of course, but the dates of each employment are not necessary. The same applies to your education. It’s important to highlight your academic achievements on your resume, but you can leave out your year of graduation.

2. Limit your resume to two pages

Today, most recruiters spend less than 10 seconds to review a resume. With such a short time frame to make a good first impression, it’s critical to limit your resume to two pages while still successfully highlighting your experience and skills. Use this opportunity to address your most recent job roles and technical skills that you've picked up along the way.

3. Submit a customized resume

Customizing your resume doesn't imply rewriting the whole document for each job application. In fact, you’ll lose sense of your personal brand if you use completely different versions of your resume for different job applications. However, you do need to tweak and tailor your resume to better suit each job opening.  

First, analyze the job description and make a list of all the keywords you find in it. Then, check all the words that describe the skills you already have or positions you’ve held in the past. Next, it’s important to ensure that your resume’s target job title matches the title of the job listing. For example, if you are applying for a job with a title of “Social Media Manager,” then put that exact title at the top of your resume as your target job title so the recruiter is clear about your job goals.

4. Optimize your resume with keywords

Seventy-five percent of all online applications will never be seen by human eyes thanks to the applicant tracking system (ATS). The ATS is a system that helps to collect, scan, and rank an organization’s inbound job applications. If you want to stand a higher chance of making it through this digital gatekeeper, be sure that your resume incorporates specific keywords. For instance, let’s say that the job description lists the following requirements:

Requirements for Consideration: Advanced knowledge of Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

Your resume can’t just state that you have a “solid background in Microsoft Suite.” This statement is missing important keywords such as Office, applications, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This could lead to your resume being thrown aside before it’s even seen by a human being! A good way to incorporate these keywords would be to instead state that you have an “advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.”

5. Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great platform to network with others in your industry; it’s also the perfect channel to advertise your interest to prospective employers. In fact, research done by recruiting software provider Jobvite found that 93 percent of employers admit to reviewing candidates' social network profiles, regardless of whether the candidates provided that information. So, if you've been avoiding LinkedIn in the past, there’s no better time to join the bandwagon. Create a professional-looking profile that matches your career goals. Then, be sure to customize your LinkedIn profile URL and add it to the top of your resume so that recruiters can find your profile easily.

6. Focus on your achievements, not your tasks

When you’re an experienced applicant, recruiters are more interested in knowing what you’ve accomplished than the everyday tasks you’ve completed. Segregate each role under your work history into a short paragraph that describes your responsibilities. Then, add a set of bullet points to detail out the significant contributions you've made that have benefited the company. This combination of short paragraphs and bullet points gives your resume a visual balance. It also makes it easier for the reader to quickly scan your resume and find the essential details that support your application. If possible, try to also quantify your achievements to provide additional context for the hiring manager. 

TopResume offers a range of services including expertly written and keyword-optimized resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. Request a free resume review today to find out if your resume is ready for today’s job market.

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